A leaked UN report says North Korea is using front companies and criminal syndicates to export nuclear and missile technology in the face of UN sanctions.
A report by the Guardian says the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), the official name of the North, is exporting this technology to Iran, Syria and Myanmar/Burma.
The 47-page report, by a panel which monitors sanctions on Pyongyang, says North Korea was using shell companies and international criminal syndicates to export the technology.
The report was leaked to journalists in New York. It said the sanctions were working, but conceded North Korea had found ways of getting around the sanctions using people and companies that were not under travel bans or asset freezes.
Another method was that of “masking techniques,” which consisted of false labelling of shipping containers and falsifying documents, like shipping manifests. The report said the country was making use of: “Multiple layers of intermediaries, shell companies and financial institutions” to circumvent sanctions. A western diplomat at the UN, who was not named by the newspaper, said:
The details in the report are not entirely surprising. Basically it suggests that North Korea has exported nuclear and missile technology with the aid of front companies, middlemen and other ruses.
Another way the country was getting technology to dubious regimes was the use to “kits” for the recipient country to assemble on arrival. The UN called on countries to use “extra vigilance” when dealing with North Korean cargoes. It is suspected that North Korea is exporting parts for weapons of mass destruction (WMD).
The news broke just before Chinese premier, Wen Jiaobao, arrived in South Korea for a three-day visit, which will also include meetings with Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, as well as host South Korean President Lee Myung Bak.
Meanwhile, the BBC reports that China is moving closer to a condemnation of North Korea. Premier Wen said in the South Korean capital, Seoul:
"China objects to and condemns any act that destroys the peace and stability of the Korean peninsula.”
However, Wen stopped short of blaming the March sinking of the South Korean navy vessel Cheonan on North Korea:
The Chinese government will decide its position by objectively and fairly judging what is right and wrong about the incident while respecting the international probe and responses to it by each nation."
Diplomats say China’s position is limited, as it fears the North Korean regime could implode and also wishes to avoid a war in Korea as it does not want to have possibly millions of refugees on its territory.